Multimedia strategy: realising value in the face of change
Jason Brameld, Multimedia Consultant with PTS Consulting, takes a look at the changes in Multimedia and how to realise its value.
In common usage, the term Multimedia refers to an electronically delivered combination of media including video, still images, audio, text in such a way that can be accessed interactively.
Multimedia began as the traditional standalone use of Audio Visual to share information one way – optimising the delivery of sound, graphics and pictures in a space, such as a lecture theatre, to make the presenter heard. It has since come a long way. Rapid advances in technology and new media mean that AV is stepping out of the lecture theatre, or, more accurately, new AV capabilities are allowing the lecture theatre to expand so that it can be accessed anywhere at any time.
The evolution started when AV began to be linked with other technology, such as conference services. Collaboration and interaction followed as these channels were combined with other technologies and devices. Now, it is possible to make written, audio and visual content available to anyone, anywhere via the Internet, for example the dissemination of captured lectures, dedicated teaching pieces, seminar records and links to reference information and research materials.
This is the true meaning of Multimedia – always on, multi-channel and multi-dimension communication.
The shrewd CIO knows that a well-considered Multimedia strategy has the potential to transform the learning environment. The learning community is global and demands 24x7 access to teaching resources. Add to this an increasing desire to study on-the-go in more agile ways, and it isn’t difficult to see that enabling Multimedia technology is vital. However, the spectrum of Multimedia is vast, making planning for and managing this technology complex. Multimedia is a highly specialised application of interactive IT services, requiring bespoke design.
A well-considered Multimedia strategy has the potential to transform the learning environment”
Multimedia in Teaching and Learning
What does the teaching and learning community expect from Multimedia?
The Communication imperative: As the march towards the global economy removes organisational borders, Multimedia technology begins to play a central role in collaboration. From geography-independent lecture delivery to access to collaborative learning and workspaces, Multimedia unites diverse communities and delivers a new level of operational transparency that is now expected.
Constant connection: We live in a world where we are used to being surrounded by a multitude of devices. In the "always-on" connected environment, the population is even more tech-savvy and accustomed to combining technologies for innovative solutions in connecting with others. Multimedia should offer the same flexibility in the learning environment as we are used to at home. Capitalising on trends such as “Bring Your Own Device”, Multimedia can be used effectively to enable closer collaborative working by students.
Operational efficiency: Focus on ROI has never been greater. Organisations strive to make the very best use of resources, whether this is by driving operational synergies, or by identifying and exploiting opportunities for either cost reduction or income generation. Against the backdrop of an increased pace of living, organisations must engender a culture of collaboration to enable new ways of thinking and smarter working.
The Green Agenda: Environmental responsibility is now a core component of organisational strategy. The use of interactive digital media and technology reduces the need for travel, which in turn lowers the carbon footprint of an organisation. The message that an organisation is committed to the Green Agenda positively impacts organisational reputation.
Today the strategic application of modern Multimedia technologies is helping to build truly global Universities”
Why does Multimedia get a bad press?
Multimedia (or components thereof) can often exist within multiple departments in an organisation, such as IT, Estates, Library Services and individual departments, meaning that it does not always benefit from dedicated management support in its own right. Without clear ownership, the supporting AV infrastructure, services and processes can be lacking, leaving the technology to operate in isolation and the user experience to be fragmented and deteriorate over time.
In such a scenario, technology procurement happens piecemeal and typically multiple different technologies will be deployed, making retrofitting equipment onto existing networks challenging.
Taking control of Multimedia
It is clear that successful deployment of this technology can offer huge benefits, but where do we start?
Firstly, CIOs must ensure that all the user requirements have been accounted for in the IT strategy. Through quantitative and qualitative business and user analysis, key strategic guiding principles can be established surrounding the use of IT and digital media in the teaching and learning environment.
It is also crucial to establish standardised, centralised IT service management processes surrounding Multimedia. This will align best practice use and upkeep of the technology with your business plan.
Finally, make sure that any Managed Service provision has a well-defined target-based operating model. This will deliver a good level of operational support and management and in turn, a good user experience.
Today the strategic application of modern Multimedia technologies is helping to build truly global Universities delivering online courses wherever their students may be; the use of delivery platforms such as edX, Coursera and Udacity are helping Institutions reach students across the world. As the expectation of today’s teaching and learning communities has been raised dramatically, it is in our interest to deliver standardised teaching facilities that are easy to use, well supported and well maintained. A little careful planning can realise true value and sustainable competitive advantage from Multimedia.
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